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Nursing staff

Pay, terms and conditions in independent employers

All nursing staff deserve fair pay, good terms and conditions, career development and a safe working environment no matter where they work.

This page can be used for advice on starting a conversation between nursing staff and employers about fair pay, terms and conditions.

The RCN believes all health and social care employers need to have a pay system that is competitive with the NHS. While some are based on NHS structures, many are set independently and in some instances pay rates are dictated by commissioners’ budgets. Pay rates are often lower and for health care assistants are usually set at the national minimum wage or a few pence above it. 

A pay claim can be used as a mechanism to facilitate discussions with an employer on the wider aspects of pay, and increased benefits in employment terms and conditions. If the matter is shared by a group of nursing staff then a claim can be taken forward collectively. The RCN can help in making a pay claim. Contact RCN Direct for more information.

Preparing for discussions with your employer

Read our 'Eight simple tips' to help you prepare and work with colleagues to approach your employer about improving your pay, terms and conditions.  These tips include downloading and using our editable RCN Request a Pay Rise Template Letter and a simple one page RCN Short Pay Survey, as preparation, before contacting your employer.  You can also find additional information in the RCN guide 'Fair Pay in the Independent Sector' to help you review your pay, terms and conditions and prepare your request clearly and concisely.  As the guide explains, it is useful to be able to compare your current pay and terms and conditions with others.  The guide contains some comparisons to Agenda for Change terms and conditions.  You may find it useful to refer to the latest figures on inflation, the National Minimum Wage and  the Living Wage:

Office for National Statistics inflation figures
The National Minimum Wage
The Living Wage 

Further reading

The UK nursing labour market review 2020

RCN Evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body 2021/22

Joint union evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body 2021/22

CPI2 & CPIH2 – Consumer Prices Index & CPI Housin

We're here for you

If you're an RCN member and need help with any aspect of your employment, you can access advice online or contact us direct. We're here to help - wherever you work.


Let's talk about your career

Thinking about progression, promotion or development? Or just curious about your options? Take control of your career today with our dedicated resources:

Accountability and delegation affect all members of the nursing team